Saturday September 26 – the daily story

The main headlines

Is this the secret Qom enrichment facility?

Is this the secret Qom enrichment facility?

President Obama said the discovery of a secret nuclear plant in Iran showed a “disturbing pattern” of evasion by Tehran that added urgency to Thursday’s  talks in Geneva between world powers and Iran.  A senior administration official said the US and its five allies will tell Tehran it must provide “unfettered access” to its Qom enrichment facility within weeks. But  Iran’s ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog said Tehran was already arranging for the agency to inspect the site “in the very near future”.  Reuters,  AP, AP

— Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, head of the Supreme Leader’s office, said the Qom enrichment facility would come on stream soon “and will blind the eyes of the enemies”. (We hope he doesn’t mean in a military sense, as his boss has clearly declared that to be unIslamic)  Fars

— Egypt has warned that a nuclear-capable Israel and an Iran pursuing nuclear weapons could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Kuwait Times

— President Jalal Talebani of Iraq said new sanctions against Iran will not work and warned that Baghdad will never allow Israel or any other country to use its airspace to carry out an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities. AP

— British Foreign Secretary  David Miliband refused to rule out the prospect of military action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions but insisted the international focus was on a diplomatic solution. Guardian

— The Revolutionary Guard said it will begin missile war games from Sunday in a bid to “maintain and improve” its deterrent capability. Fars,  PressTV

President Ahmadinejad has come under fire from conservatives back home for suggesting in an interview  that President Obama should see Iran as a potential friend. MP Ahmad Tavakoli said: “This particular sentence is exceptionally soft… and this softness is useless and harmful, as Obama is yet to show a change of heart towards Iran.” Former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai said: “I don’t know why and based on what analysis did he make those comments, but this kind of wording is not in our interests.” PressTV

Speculation is growing about behind-the-scenes moves to resolve the poltical crisis, with even a hint of a pact between Ayatollahs Khamenei and Rafsanjani. The day after it was reported that Rafsanjani had left the Experts Assembly meeting for talks with Khamenei, the Neo-Resistance website reported a statement from the Assembly chairman saying the plan he revealed at the start of the week to resolve Iran’s problems was being spearheaded from the Expediency Council that he also heads. It was also suggested that beaten presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai was masterminding it. The report also refers to an article on the respected Die Zeit website suggesting that a “special committee of experts”  is examining the option of replacing Ahmadinejad with Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a contender of presidential election in 2005. The report suggests talk of impeaching the President is gaining strength because the city of Tehran is auditing its accounts for the period when Ahmadinejad was Mayor to reopen an investigation into the disappearance of more than 300 billion toman ($300m) from Ahmadinejad’s account books. Neo-Resistance, Die Zeit article translation

Fresh reports on the Experts Assembly meeting last week say both the chairman Ayatollah Rafsanjani  and regime critic Ayatollah Dastgheib came under sharp attack from hardliners. The Radio Zamaneh website, noting that Assembly regulations insist its discussions remain confidential, quotes Ayatollah Abbas Kaabi as telling Fars news agency that out of 16 speakers 12 had reproached Rafsanjani for his pro-opposition stances. Kaabi also condemned Ayatollah Dastgheib for his “disparaging, anti-establishment and illogical” comments.  Ayande news agency said Kaabi, had started a petition among  members  for his dismissal. Radio Zamaneh

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a joint call to Iran  to resolve several cases of detained or missing Americans and Canadians. dailymail.com

Venezuela’s science and technology minister denied Iran is helping Venezuela seek uranium, saying the South American country is only working with Russia to detect deposits of the radioactive metal. AP

Despite having the world’s second largest gas reserves, Iran will be short of around 200 million cubic metres per day of gas this winter due to rapid growth in demand, Oil Minister Massoud  Mir-Kazemi  said.  He added that the country needs $19 billion toward “unfinished” natural gas projects.  “Iran has difficulty in obtaining the required investment to develop natural gas fields and there will be no new production field added in the coming three years. The need to revise the country’s consumption model is ever more necessary.”  The Peninsula,   Gulf News

— An Iranian  court halted production at the Nargesi oilfield for environmental reasons, after a complaint by Borazjan municipality in Bushehr province, leading to a drop in the country’s crude output of 15,000 barrels per day, Mehr News Agency reported quoting unnamed provincial sources. Reuters

Defence Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi  has appointed General Ahmad Vahid Dastjerdi as acting deputy defence minister. Dastjerdi  was  head of the Aerospace Organisation of the Iranian Defence Ministry. Fars

Intelligence forces have disbanded a terrorist group with links to foreign countries  in the Western province of Kermanshah, and four people were arrested Wednesday, the Intelligence Ministry said. PressTV

The Gondaman marsh in Chahar-Mahal Bakhtiari province, an important wintering and breeding ground for several  birds, is still burning after two days and locals say the fire is spreading. Environmental experts had warned about the possibility of fire after the marsh dried up due to a dam built on the nearby Choqakhor wetland.  PressTV

It costs at least 30 million tomans (about $29,000) to get married in Tehran according to research by the Tehran Shahid Beheshti University. Payvand

In more detail

The New York Times reports on the case of Ibrahim Sharifi, the prisoner whose tale of prison rape was one of those revealed by Mehdi Karoubi to the Iranian authorities. Sharifi now lives in Turkey, where he fled after, he says, his family was threatened by the authorities.

Rooz Online reports on an interview the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Aziz Jafari,  gave to Jame Jam newspaper, in which he appears to suggest all the Guards’ forays into the political and economic spheres have been done on the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei. “The IRGC has never got involved in any field that is not related to its revolutionary mission unilaterally.” The opposition is kicking up a fuss because it argues the Guards have no business getting involved in politics and that this was expressly forbidden by Ayatollah Khomeini.

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